Mepham High School in Bellmore

Mepham High School in Bellmore Credit: Howard Schnapp

School leaders in the Bellmore-Merrick high school district have apologized to Elmont educators and the community after a student spectator at Mepham High School made "inappropriate, racist gestures" at a junior varsity basketball game Tuesday.

In a note to the Bellmore-Merrick community, superintendent Michael Harrington said that the student will face disciplinary measures. Mepham High School in Bellmore is part of the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School district in Nassau County.

The Mepham girl's junior varsity team was hosting Elmont Memorial High School.

Harrington said that school officials became aware of an "unacceptable act of behavior" that took place during the game and that the district acted immediately. No further detail was made available.

"The district cannot comment on individual student disciplinary matters, we can assure you that the student responsible for this reprehensible behavior will be disciplined and receive significant consequences in accordance to the district’s code of conduct," read the note dated Thursday from Harrington. "We are fully committed to providing an instructional setting that promotes an environment that is respectful and inclusive of all and does not accept racism, intolerance or discrimination of any type."

According to the New York State Education Department, Mepham High School is roughly 75% white and Elmont Memorial’s enrollment is about 70% Black.

Harrington said the district has contacted school officials at Elmont Memorial, which is part of the Sewanhaka school district.

"We … wish to extend our apologies to the entire Elmont community as well. We deeply regret the hurt and harm that this incident caused the Elmont community and members of our own community," he wrote. "In closing, I am asking you to have a serious conversation with your children about the harm that acts of racism, intolerance and discrimination can cause. Be assured that we will continue to work diligently to promote tolerance, acceptance and inclusivity in our school community."

In a statement later Thursday, James Grossane, superintendent of the Sewanhaka Central High School District, said that "while we were disappointed to hear of the display of an opponent’s spectator at a recent away basketball game we are pleased with how the Bellmore-Merrick administration quickly addressed this incident, identified the individual involved and took action internally. We will continue to advocate for our student-athletes and use moments like these to hopefully educate and enlighten the broader athletic and student community."

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